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Frankie Edgar: In Constant Pursuit of Championship Gold

Duane Finley@duanefinleymmaContributor IJune 9, 2015

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Frankie Edgar has his sights set on featherweight gold, and it's a goal he's pursuing relentlessly.

Since dropping down into 145-pound waters in 2013, the former lightweight champion has carved a path through the featherweight divisional ranks and has done so with what is perhaps the most impressive run of his career. Where the fighting pride of Toms River, New Jersey, found his initial success at the elite level of the sport working behind his lion-hearted drive and utter refusal to lose, the 33-year-old veteran has written the latest chapter of his career with a mixture of technique and tenacity.

Edgar is riding a four-fight winning streak where he's drubbed, battered and outclassed a collection of legends and promising talent alike. Furthermore, he has dominated his opposition without sacrificing the full-throttle style of fighting that fans have come to love over the years, which can be a difficult task to accomplish when winning at all cost is the ultimate goal.

Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Over the course of his current run, Edgar has also stripped away the perennial underdog label and has re-emerged as a different type of monster—one who has publicly staked his claim as next in line and is determined to get his hands on the featherweight strap by any means necessary. 

"That featherweight title is definitely the goal," Edgar said in an exclusive interview. "I feel like I'm still in it, man. I'm still getting better and still have room to grow. I want that title. I've been knocking on the door for a couple of fights, and I think the time for it to happen is now. A closed mouth don't get fed, and I want to eat.

"I want that belt. I'm 33, and time is ticking. I still feel young. I still feel good, but we are getting there. I'm close to that shot, and I'm not going to let that opportunity slip. I have to make sure I make the best of everything and make sure I get what I deserve."

The Mark Henry-trained fighter's victory over Urijah Faber at Fight Night 66 put Edgar on the doorstep of a title opportunity, but he will have to wait on the sidelines until the next shot materializes. Long-reigning featherweight king Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor are slated to settle their business at UFC 189 on July 11, and Edgar is hoping to face the winner of that bout later in the year. Then again, no one in the MMA space is more familiar with immediate rematches than Edgar, and he knows Aldo and McGregor running it back is a possibility.

Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Nevertheless, he is confident he's earned the next shot at the featherweight title and believes facing the winner of Aldo vs. McGregor is the only logical step for him to take.

"I don't think anything else makes sense," Edgar said. "These guys are fighting a month from now. The winner is going to need an opponent, and I'm that guy. Barring a rematch between these two, I definitely feel I should be next.

"Should that happen, then I'll have some decisions to make. I know my manager has said I'm not going to accept any other fight but the title fight, and right now I think that is the only thing that makes sense for me. But we'll see. My fingers are definitely crossed, and I'm optimistic things will fall into place to make it happen. Hopefully, all goes well, and I'm next in line."

While the moving parts need to fall into place for his title shot to materialize, Edgar won't spend that time sitting back and resting on his accomplishments. The resilient contender is on a constant mission of progression, and the results he has garnered during his time in the featherweight fold prove his evolution as a mixed martial artist is still in full swing.

That may sound strange when talking about a man who held the 155-pound title for two years in addition to competing for the featherweight crown, but Edgar's approach to his career is equal to his style inside the cage in the sense that constant motion and forward movement are required.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - MAY 16:  Uriah Faber grapples with Frankie Edgar in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Mall Of Asia Arena on May 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines.  (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

The New Jersey native's objective in MMA is to be a champion, and experience has taught him what is required in that regard. That is the reason he's continued to push himself day in and day out inside the gym, because he knows all the hard work he and his team invest will add up to pay dividends when it matters.

That's a belief he's held since his days coming up on the wrestling mats, and the same mentality has produced championship results on the biggest stage in MMA.

"I'm still hungry and motivated to get to the gym. I took a week to spend with my family after my last fight, and then I was right back in there the next Monday. I was back in there working and haven't stopped. That's just who I am, to be honest. There's only so much work you can do around the house, you know?" he laughed. 

"My coaches and I have all evolved together, and we are very comfortable with one another," Edgar explained. "I truly believe in my corner, and if they say something, I'm going to do it. It doesn't matter where the fight is taking place at—if they say it, I execute it. Everyone always says I adjust well on the fly, but the reason that happens is because I'm listening to them. They are seeing the adjustments I need to make then telling me, and I do it. My success is a testament to how good my coaches are, and we are going to continue to work hard and get that title."

Duane Finley is featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. 

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